French media group Vivendi has agreed to sell control of US games firm Activision Blizzard, the company behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

codvivVivendi is selling 85% of its 61.1% stake in Activision to the company and its management for $8.2bn (£5.3bn).

It is the second big deal announced by Vivendi this week.

On Tuesday, the company said it was in talks over selling its controlling stake in Maroc Telecom for 4.2bn euros ($5.6bn; £3.6bn).

The deals are part of Vivendi’s plans to restructure the business and reduce its debt levels.

‘Financial flexibility’

WoW_Box_Art1Vivendi chairman Jean-Francois Dubos said: “This transaction represents an important step forward in the strategic review conducted by the Vivendi Supervisory Board over the last year.

“It provides the group with greater financial flexibility and creates value for our shareholders.”

The company said it would use part of the sale proceeds to strengthen its balance sheet and maintain the firm’s debt rating.

It added that Vivendi’s board would determine “the appropriate use of the remaining proceeds”.

UBS analyst Polo Tang said that after the firm had paid down debt, “we expect the rest to be used for share buybacks or M&A to bulk up the media side of the business”.

Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to be completed in September, Activision will by back 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.8bn.

In addition, an investor group including Activision management will also buy 172 million shares for $2.3bn.

After the sale, Vivendi will retain a holding of 12% in the games firm.

(Source – BBC)